In its first call for COVID-19 research in February, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) received fewer funding applications from women than normal and fewer proposals accounting for sex and gender in research. To address this, the CIHR implemented policy interventions for its second call in May.

The CIHR extended the submission and evaluation periods; it eased application requirements; it provided guidance on why sex and gender need to be considered (see; and it attended to sex and gender in proposal-evaluation criteria.

Accordingly, the proportion of applications from female investigators increased, the proportion of successful applications with a female principal investigator doubled, and there were more sex and gender considerations in the research proposals.

For the next competition, applicants can submit a personal statement on how the pandemic had affected them, and will receive compensation for care costs incurred during meetings. Such interventions build fairer funding systems (H. O. Witteman et al. Preprint at bioRxiv; 2020).